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International Women’s Day – Kalpana Balachandran

Women in Big Data is spotlighting amazing women.

Kalpana Balachandran is a Senior IT Talent Acquisition Specialist at NetEffects, a Leading IT Services Staffing firm in St. Louis, MO.

When I reflect back on my life as a daughter, home maker, mother, professional, and above all a human being, I am thankful to my family and friends for all the unconditional support. I did my schooling in Mumbai, India, supported by a scientist father and a mother who balanced her work and home beautifully. I met my husband early in life during college and launched my first career and role of a home maker at the same time. My life has spanned multiple countries, numerous careers, and innumerable learning experiences. Through it all, I have learned that change is the only constant in our lives and when viewed through the right lens, can be a powerful catalyst for progress and growth.

After I earned my Master’s in Economics, I began my career journey teaching Economics to undergraduate students in leading colleges in Mumbai for seven years. Motherhood prompted the first pause to my career and led to a gap of four years. After giving birth to my two sons, I resumed my career in the teaching field (this time at the high school level). For the next five years, I spent my time balancing the responsibilities of motherhood and work.

Around this time, we made the decision to relocate to Singapore as a family. Our goal was to eventually work towards helping our children attain an education in the United States and Singapore was a unique melting pot of western and eastern cultures that would help us move closer to our goal. Once we settled down in the new city, a new career opportunity presented itself in the form of establishing a unique global cultural center for a leading educational institution in Singapore. This would be a ground-up creation in a completely different field. The central idea behind the center was to form a dedicated space to educate children about the different forms of art while celebrating the artists who worked daily to keep those stories and culture alive.  It gave a great opportunity to connect and support dreams of people across all age groups. It also enabled me to learn the art of networking and organize large scale events involving celebrities from different walks of life. Four years into this beautiful world of creativity and artistry in Singapore helped me get another perspective in human life. When we relocated to Singapore, we had no friends or family to start with. When we left Singapore, we had developed a great network of friends and had the privilege of interacting with numerous renowned artists and dignitaries.

At the end of our four years in Singapore, more change was in store for our lives. We decided to make the move to St. Louis, MO at a critical juncture for my children as they were getting ready for middle school and high school. We relocated to St. Louis, MO with no established family or friend ties in the city.

Due to immigration rules, my professional career experienced another pause for six years until I met the requisite eligibility rules to work again. In that period of time, my focus reverted back to ensuring our family successfully navigated the opportunities and challenges that come with moving to a new (and foreign) city and supporting my children as they went through their key developmental years. In time, as I looked to find my next career path, an opportunity presented itself (my fourth career change) to delve into the world of talent acquisition.

The role and ask was to run talent searches for senior executive / leadership roles for leading global IT system integrators. Having no prior direct experience in this field, it was a significant learning experience. I had to learn, refine, and blend different skills together (networking, job search requirement building, negotiation, etc.) in order to drive the necessary outcomes and find the right talent to fill in these leadership roles. After spending some time in this role, I was hired by an IT services firm in St. Louis, MO to find and hire talent across a diverse range of technologies and skills. I was also tasked to create a talent acquisition team of recruiters to address the increased demand. Having delivered on this role successfully, I was able to translate that experience into my current role and opportunity with NetEffects. This gave me a chance to progress to the next level and operate as a Senior IT Talent acquisition specialist serving the IT talent requirements of leading businesses in St. Louis. MO.

Reflecting on my experiences across these varied roles, the common traits can be summarized as follows:

  • Understanding our audience and relating to their aspirations—be it students, parents, people seeking holistic personality development or hiring managers of our clients—helps us to create alignment and a positive experience.
  • Education does not end in school. We are students for life. Each day there is an opportunity for growth and new learning and that helps us to evolve.
  • Every individual we interact with give us a new perspective and deeper understanding, and as humans, we all strive for connection. Ultimately, building sincere relationships that help others realize their potential is uniquely fulfilling.
  • When faced with change and striving for growth, failure is inevitable. Allowing that failure to define us or propel us further is a choice.

The message I can share to all fellow women professionals is very simple. Balancing career, home, family and health is not easy at different stages of our life journey. However, those significant responsibilities and the adversities we face helps us build a unique skill set that blends humanity and empathy with ambition and technical proficiency.

Thank you, Women in Big Data, for giving me the opportunity to share my life and journey with all of you. I look forward to helping many more careers in the field of IT and helping individuals of all walks of life realize their full potential.

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